Category Archives: Festivals

Celebrating David Loh’s Homecoming

Journalist David ST Loh left Penang three decades ago to work for news organisations like Reuters, The Star and more recently, The Malaysian Insight.

The internationally-published Loh has spent 26 years in the media industry, of which 21 of them were as a photojournalist. He later moved on to became an editor at the award-winning photographic department of the Reuters Ltd news agency.

He left Reuters in 2016 as Editor-in-Charge (EIC) for the agency’s Global Pictures Desk and today works for The Malaysian Insight.

Previously based in cities like Kuala Lumpur, London and Singapore, Loh’s images have graced many global newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, UK Times and others. He was also part of a judging panel for the ChinaInternational Press Photo Contest 2016.

He has now come full circle and returned to Penang last year and calls this island home (again).

Since then, Loh has been exploring his home state with a revived passion, discovering new and interesting things to see and photograph, on land or from above.

(A 35m table laden with offerings during the Jade Emperor’s birthday celebration at the clan jetties in George Town, Penang)

Using a drone, he scours places that might hold interesting terrain, landmarks and features and he has not been disappointed with every deployment of the drone.

His aerial images will form a part of a curated collection of his work for an upcoming photography exhibition.

(A cruise ship at the Penang Port Cruise Terminal at dusk)

The ‘Over Penang Photography Exhibition’ is part of the George Town Festival 2018, will be held at the Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel, Victory Annexe, 10 Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, Penang.

The exhibition runs from August 4 till Sept 2, 2018.

The homecoming exhibition is aimed at imparting a sense and fresh feel of how the city has changed, in tandem with the island maintaining its essence of combining heritage and progress .

Loh has been painstakingly and continuously documenting Penang Island as the island state tries to find a happy balance between progress and preservation.

(Mercurial lakes at Frog Hill, Tasek Gelugor, Seberang Prai, Penang)

“Penang,” Loh notes, “is such an amazing place where there seems to be non-stop events, activities, things to do, and places to go.

“If you are prepared to go out and look, you will never be bored in Penang.”

Welcome home, David Loh and keep “clicking” and continuing to share with us your amazing work of the Penang we all love!

(All images courtesy of David ST Loh)

Advertisements

9 Years of Arts and Culture Continue …

For the ninth year, the George Town Festival returns and is ready to welcome visitors to the island and continue to give more entertainment, cultural and artsy-fartsy value to Penang residents.

Mark your calendars, book your flight/bus/train tickets, plan your road trips and hotel/home stays, and join us proud Penang Lang in a month (read: August till early September) filled with performing arts shows, from dance to theatre, as well as photography and art exhibitions, workshops, music, creative talks and arts and crafts markets.

On a personal note, a warm welcome back to the anggams-supporters-of-the-fest, Steven, Glen and Meenaka from across the seas and Causeway!

Here are some highlights of the long-awaited list of happenings brought to you and lovingly curated by the tireless festival director Joe Sidek and his equally dedicated and work-around-the-clock team …

• KELANTAN: A Living Heritage (Malaysia)

The show celebrates Kelantan, known as the ‘Cradle of Malay Culture’ and its unique tapestry woven through its traditional and captivating art forms.

• Between Tiny Cities (Cambodia & Australia)

Dancers from Australia and Cambodia use the rituals and movement styles of b-boy dance to reveal the dramatically different worlds that surround them.

• We Cannot Talk About It (Iran)

A dark and gripping performance with intense expressions of suppressed life. From Iranian group The Hole in the Wall from the award-winning creators of Slow Sound of Snow (GTF 2015).

• Yaron Kohlberg feat. Ciaran McAuley & Penang Philharmonic Orchestra

Yaron Kohlberg, the “pianist with the golden hands”, performs a classical music suite with the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, with esteemed Conductor Ciaran McAuley.

• 2062 (Spain & Germany)

An experimental show about a dystopian world, where the “present” is deemed as the authentic protagonist, highlighting borders, walls, new migrations, current affairs, and economic changes.

• Isle of Dreams (Taiwan)

Making its first premier in Southeast Asia, Isle of Dreams is a mythological musical theatre piece featuring Nanguan and Beiguan music integrating with poetry, puppetry and ritual dance in the performance.

• Second Body (Taiwan)

A dance production generating an out-of-body experience. A dark stage, dancer with abstract light projected on her skin, and the study of movement itself.

• BLIND (Brazil)

A social experiment and an interactive art showcase which has travelled the world, soon will be taking the streets of George Town in Penang for the very first time.

• SeaShorts (Southeast Asian Short Film Festival) (Malaysia)

An annual short film festival with over 200 entries. Attending the festival will be notable film makers such as Rithy Pahn, Mira Lesmana, Liew Seng Tat, Pimpaka Towira and Philip Cheah.

ConneXion – Passion Made Possible (Singapore)
A collaboration with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), ConneXion- Passion Made Possible will thrill festival goers as part of the GTF closing weekend.  The best of Singapore will be featured through fashion, music, art, dance, theatre, film, talks and food hosted in various venues in George Town. More details to be announced.

• Te.ma.sya BUDAYA KITA (Malaysia)

A National Department for Culture and Arts (JKKN) special showcase of traditional arts and performing arts. More details to be announced.

Most shows hosted at Dewan Sri Pinang and Loft 29 will have its tickets sale via Redtix.

Others are mainly-free-to-attend shows, talks and workshops are available through registration on PopTickets.

This year GTF also focuses on its collaborations with various local creative collectives such as The National Department For Culture And Arts (JKKN), National Academy of Arts Culture and Heritage (ASWARA), SeaShorts, Sisters in Islam, Obscura, Penang House of Music, Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, Penang Foodie and the return of Konsert Kopitiam V.3.

Additionally, there are also alliances through special projects with other countries such as the recently launched “Isle to Isle” project with Taiwan Economic Cultural Office in Malaysia (TECO), “Passion Made Possible” with Singapore Tourism Board (STB) as well as a collaboration with the Arts, Education and Law Group at Griffith University.

GTF also works together in partnership with Penang Global Tourism and hotels such as E&O Hotel, Penaga Hotel along with other hotels, media and venue partners. GTF is currently looking for sponsorship and partnership.

For the newbies, the George Town Festival is an annual, month-long celebration of culture, heritage, art, and community.

Inaugurated in 2010 in honour of George Town’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the festival transforms the city into a global stage, showcasing world-class performances, installations, and collaborations from international and local artists alike.

With over one hundred unique events each year, the festival seeks to create new and vibrant connections between the traditional and the contemporary, the past and the future.

For more information on full list of GTF 2018 programmes and ticketing please visit www.georgetownfestival.com

(images courtesy of Joe Sidek and George Town Festival)

#georgetownfestival #gtf2018 #gtf

Namaste in the Forest

The Rainforest Fringe Festival in Kuching, Sarawak this year (6-15 July) is inviting all festival goers and yoga practitioners to a spiritual retreat in the forest.

The three-day event (9-11 July) is brought in by Under Armour and is meant to introduce Sarawak as an “intact” and “untouched space for a clear mind” says the event’s curator, Joe Sidek.

“We want to promote Sarawak as a destination where all yogis from around the world can converge and use the splendid rainforest as a canvas and home for their retreat,” adds the Penang-based Sidek, who is also director of the George Town Festival.

“Its all about Sarawak, her people, culture, food and history and above all, positioning the state as an international platform.

“What we are doing is to get people who may have not heard about Sarawak before, to become our indirect ambassadors.

“And it is through these international eye-balls and the proud Sarawakians both in Malaysia and elsewhere, that we get to show the world what Sarawak has to offer,” Sidek adds.

The yoga retreat, priced at RM1,600 per person, will be held at Cove 55, billed as an ethnic-inspired hideaway where Mount Santubong welcomes the South China Sea.

The yoga package includes:

• Return ground transfer from town to Cove 55

• 2x nights twin sharing room*

• Meals: 2x breakfast, 1x lunch & 2x dinner

• Yoga sessions by celebrity yoga instructors

And here’s something about the instructors …

Denise Keller

Denise Keller is a Singaporean certified yoga instructor, model and former VJ for MTV Asia. She completed her Yoga Alliance 200 hr Teacher Training & Certification with PURE Yoga, and her 300 hr advanced training with Bryce Yoga.

Her other credentials include Yoga Medicine with Tiffany Cruikshank and Pre-natal training with Michelle Papa.

She has conducted large events like the TLC Festival and Soulscape as well as private corportate events and workshops. Learn more about her at her website or Instagram @denisekellerofficial.

Hendri Take

Hendri Take is a yoga practitioner and entrepreneur. He is Certified and registered at the Yoga Alliance 200-hour Yoga Flow Teacher Training and Winner of Influence Asia Awards for the category of Health and Fitness back in 2015 in Singapore. Visit Hendri’s blog by clicking here or Instagram @hendritake.

The themes of Hendri’s classes are: Catching Fire and Grow the Strength. Hendri will teach Vinyasa yoga (Strength, balance, and core stabilization).

Some housekeeping notes:

• Please note that no payment will be taken upon initial registration.

• Please note that if you book as an individual you may be assigned a rooming partner. Please contact programming@rainforestfringe.com if you would like more information.

Namaste!

#rff #rainforestfringe #kuching #2018

(All images courtesy of Joe Sidek)

“ISLE TO ISLE” – GTF JOINS HANDS WITH TAIWAN

The annual George Town Festival (GTF), running from Aug 4-Sept 2, 2018 is bringing in the richness of Taiwanese art and culture to Penang.

“Isle to Isle”, is a collaboration between GTF and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia (TECO).

It will showcase a layered series of programmes highlighting the very best of Taiwanese performing arts, creative and art administration, say its organisers.

Programmes hosted throughout the week will be an effort to showcase and create a discourse on Taiwanese performing arts and design and the use of creative spaces to generate people-centric experiences.

“We are very excited to work with TECO along with other well-established Taiwanese organisations on this project.

“There is much to learn from the Taiwanese art and cultural creative industries and we want to bring forth a different approach to art and design to Penang”, GTF director Joe Sidek said.

“What Taiwan has done for its art industry is an exemplary approach for Penang’s growth of the art and design scene here.

“Taiwan is a leading example within the region where the government and private sectors are working together to create a successful platform for the creative industry. There is much we can learn from this,” he added.

Isle to Isle also serves as an effort to create closer ties with the Taiwanese art and design community.

“By partnering with the George Town Festival and establishing Isle to Isle, we hope that we can create a closer bond with Malaysia. What better way to strengthen a great relationship than through the arts,” said Cultural Division Director of TECO in Malaysia, Peggy Chou.

“Through this project we are thrilled to bring to Penang the best of Taiwanese art, design and more”, said Peggy Chou.

Isle to Isle will feature a week of Taiwan’s best art and design showcases to be hosted around George Town.

The cultural week will include The Hsinchu City Youth Chinese Orchestra, Isle of Dreams, Kaxabu! A Language No Longer Spoken?, Second Body, talks and a market showcasing and selling Taiwanese creative products curated by Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and screenings of Taiwanese films.

The collaboration with Taiwan also includes partnerships with Taiwanese organisations such as the Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Quanta Arts Foundation and Penang-based Mano Plus.

The GTF is a month-long celebration of culture, heritage, art and community. The festival which is now in its 9th year, continues to honour George Town’s spot on the world map as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Watch this space for more world-class acts which are coming to George Town!

#isletoisle #georgetownfestival2018 #gtf

(images courtesy of GTF)

E&O Iftar

As the holy month of Ramadan descends on us again, our Muslim friends will be preparing to fast (puasa) from dawn to dusk, while they also engage in more prayer and works of charity.

We in Malaysia are blessed to not only enjoy the public holidays for religious and cultural celebrations of our rich and diverse communities, but to also indulge in the food which are associated with each of the festivals.

One of the high points for me during Ramadan since I was a child was to look forward to the wide array of Malay `kuih` (cakes and desserts) sold at the Ramadan bazaars.

In more recent times, Ramadan has also spelt a time for me to catch up with my Muslim friends over the `Buka Puasa’ (iftar) meal.

Here in Malaysia we are spoilt for choice and because most people are working and are unable to get home in time to prepare the evening meal to break fast, they either pack food to take home or sometimes indulge in buffet spreads found in restaurants and hotels.

The heritage Eastern and Oriental Hotel (E&O Hotel) in Penang hasn’t failed to deliver yet again on a sumptuous `buka pausa’ feast this year.

The hotel’s Sarkies Restaurant is featuring the usual suspects of popular traditional Malay fare for its `Jamuan Barbuka Puasa’ buffet, in addition to its intercontinental offerings of Japanese and Italian favourites.

“The perennial Malay salad or `ulam’ to be complemented with an array of `sambal’ and sauces, is the perfect starter to the sumptuous meal for breaking fast,” says the hotel’s communication and public relations manager Eileen Chong.

“Our traditional must-haves like `biryani rice’, `rendang daging’, `ayam masak madu’ and `gulai ketam kampong’ are prepared by our seasoned chefs who have tapped into their familiar family recipes, handed down through generations.”

For the hotel’s international guests, the Ramadan buffet serves as a great introduction to Malaysia and her lip-smacking cuisines. For those who are fasting, what better way to break fast than to enjoy local staples like satay, ikan bakar (grilled fish), `roti canal` and `murtabak’ and to round up the meal with the assortment of Malay `kuih’ and the heart-warming `bubur kacang’ (mung bean porridge with coconut milk). For the rest of us, the meal is one we can share with our Muslim friends as a sign of solidarity and a good opportunity to catch up and bond.

The buffet is available daily from 17 May to 14 June, 2018 from 7.30pm to 10.30pm and priced at RM166 (adults) and RM83 (children).

Early birds take note: bookings made and paid before 23 May 2018 are entitled to a five full paying adults allows one person to dine for free deal (+604-222-2000 extn 3151/3139 or email fbcentral.resv@eohotels.com)

For those wishing to try their hand in cooking at home, below are two recipes courtesy of the E&O Hotel’s chefs …

Chicken Biryani

5 to 6 Persons

Ingredients

• 1 onion, thinly sliced

150ml vegetable oil

2½ tbsp sweet Pepper

1 tbsp each black peppercorns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds

2½ tsp each ground turmeric and ground chilli

¼ tsp finely grated nutmeg

3 cardamom pods

2 cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick, broken into rough pieces

2 long dried chillies, broken
into rough pieces

1 fresh bay leaf

500g thick natural yogurt

½ cup each finely chopped mint and coriander, plus extra coriander
sprigs to serve

1½ tbsp finely grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

6 chicken leg portions, halved
through the joint into thigh and drumstick

400g basmati rice

50g butter, diced

70ml milk

¼ tsp saffron threads

To serve: Fried shallots and fresh coriander

Method

• Fry onion in 120ml oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6-8 mins.

Transfer to a bowl and cool. Dry-roast spices, chilli and bay leaf over medium heat, then pound with a mortar and pestle to a fine powder.

Add to onion along with yogurt, herbs, ginger, garlic and 2 tsp sea salt and mix well.

Add chicken, stir to coat, cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.

Spread chicken mixture in the base of a heavy-based casserole with a tight-fitting lid.

Bring rice, 20g butter, remaining oil and enough well-salted water to cover by 2cm to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Drain and spread over chicken.

Bring milk, saffron and remaining butter to the simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then pour over rice, cover with foil, then the lid.

Cook over low heat until rice is fluffy and chicken is cooked through (50 minutes-1 hour).

Stand for 15 mins without removing the lid, then serve hot, scattered with fried shallots and coriander sprigs.

Rendang Daging
Preparation time: 1 hour

5 to 6 Persones

Ingredients
1 kg beef Striploin, cut into 3cm chunks

For the beef Marination

2 tbsp coriander seeds (ketumbar)
2 tsp cumin seeds (jintan putih)
2 tsp fennel seeds (jintan manis)
1 tsp black peppercorns (lada hitam)
1 1/2 tsp salt (garam)

For the spice paste
200gr shallots (bawang kecil), peeled
10 garlic cloves (bawang putih), peeled
5 stalks lemongrass (batang serai), cut into segments
1” galangal root (lengkuas/galangal), peeled
1” old ginger (halia),peeled
½” turmeric root ( kunyit hidup), peeled

Other ingredients
1 tbsp red chili powder (serbuk chili)
10 pcs kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut), snipped with scissors
2 tbsp palm sugar (gula Melaka)
8 pcs cardamom (buah pelaga)
5 pcs cloves ( bunga cengkih)
10cm cinnamon stick (kulit kayu manis)

For the coconut milk

1 coconut freshly grated – to yield 250ml thick coconut milk and 250ml thin coconut milk

For the kerisik

100g fresh grated coconut Squized

Salt, to taste

Method

1. Toast the dry spices (cumin, fennel, coriander seeds) in a wok over low heat until fragrant. Using a mortar (or grinder), grind the spices and peppercorn into powder. Marinade the beef with the spices and salt for 2 hours.

2. To make the kerisik, place the freshly grated coconut into a wok over medium heat and toast until it turns to a dark brown. Stir often, this will take about 10 minutes. Once browned, place the toasted Kerisik into a mortar pound oil released from the kerisik.

3. Place the spice paste ingredients into an electric blender with 3 tbsp of water and blend until you get a paste. (Note: The paste is a bright yellow colour)

4. Place all ingredients (marinated beef, coconut milk, kerisik, spice paste + other ingredients) into a large pot. Bring to the boil over medium high heat, and once boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer for 3 hours or until the rendang is dry and meat is tender and dry (Tock )

5. Season with more salt, as necessary, Remove and serve with rice or lemang.

On the fringes of the rainforest

Mr Crazy and Creative, Joe Sidek, returns to Borneo for the second edition of the Rainforest Fringe (RFF) in Kuching from 6 to 15 July this year.

“After a successful inaugural festival in 2017, this year’s RFF will showcase a wide range of cultural, contemporary, and traditional events representative of Sarawak’s exciting, complex and many-layered identity,” said Sidek, who has been synonymous with the George Town Festival for close to a decade.

The 10-day festival is set feature both local and international artists,performers, designers, photographers, and speakers.

“Sarawak has so much to offer. Apart from ecotourism, it is also renowned for its diverse cultural identities and traditions. The Rainforest Fringe Festival is all about Sarawak and is for everyone.

“It will be an exciting time for all to come together and be immersed in art, nature, history, tradition, culture and fun,” promises Sidek.

“This year’s RFF will be an all-inclusive and a complete sensorial experience,” he adds, saying that the programme includes:

• SARAWAK: The Indigenous Showcase – Opening the festival, Sarawak’s own creation presents a tapestry of Sarawak’s indigenous groups through dance, songs,

sounds and chants. The performance layers the traditional with the contemporary, featuring New York-based dancer and choreographer Raziman Sarbini.

Also performing will be the celebrated Kuching-born soprano Dewi Liana Seriestha, the first Malaysian to win the Miss World Talent title in 2014, and recently selected as icon and keynote speaker for International Dayak Culture Day in Indonesia.

• A performance of the Paiwan Tribe from Taiwan will add an international element to the evening. The Paiwan Tribe performance, one of Taiwan’s most interesting indigenous showcases, stars Hao-Hsiang Hsu, internationally famous actor (Life of Pi) and theatre director, and Paiwan ancient singer Seredaw Tariyaljan, who performed at the Pre-Grammy Party at the 55thGrammy Awards.

This performance combines cocoon, percussion instruments and aboriginal folk songs to present a pure aboriginal musical performance celebrating the beauty of the aboriginal culture of Taiwan.

• FIRST PEOPLE Party – Introducing the term orang asal, the “first people”; RFF celebrates indigenous Sarawakians with a party hosted at the Black Box, Borneo744. The night is a performance from the electrifying soul band Electric Fields, fresh from WOMADelaide and the Australian Performing Arts Market, alongside Sarawak’s own At Adau and Pete Kallang.

• BAMBOO THAT BINDS & WOOD – This interactive series of programmes, curated by Sarawakian Wendy Teo, aims to encourage innovative use of bamboo and wood:

• The “INSTRUMENT” – A Bamboo Musical Installation. A public interactive installation of bamboo in the shape of the angklung, with musical performances.

Wendy Teo will be working with Indonesian musicians Karinding Attack to create this site-specific music sphere.

• The CREATIVE FORUM welcomes international speakers: Filipino designer to the stars, Kenneth Cobonpue; Malaysian furniture designer Shahril Faisal, whose designs “evoke emotions, provoke thoughts and stimulate the senses”; Taiwanese artist Cheng-Tsung Feng, a designer who explores the contemporary potential in traditional utensils and materials; Indian bamboo textile designer Madhu Jain, a craft revivalist recently honoured by the President of India for her services in design; and Australian architect Jed Long, co-founder of Cave Urban, a collective formed to investigate vernacular lightweight structures and their relevance to contemporary design.

* The WORKSHOP – Redesigning Bornean Crafts. 20 days, six designers/craftsmen, three countries. Bringing together three designers from Thailand, three designers from Taiwan and local craftsmen to showcase what happens when international design embraces local craftsmanship. The design teams will combine their skills to create innovative new items over a three-week workshop in June and July, after which they will display their pieces at the festival.

• The MARKET – Borneo 744 plays host to the best of Sarawakian artisanal products: wood and bamboo designs and crafts, antiques, exotic plants, books, fashion, food, and more. For the first time, Big Bad Wolf comes to East Malaysia with their enormously popular book fair at the Market.

• The RAINFOREST STORIES – A set of screenings of films and documentaries that pay homage to Sarawakian culture. A highlight is the intriguing Lost Films series, films that have been lost into the archives, featuring Cinta Gadis Rhimba (director Datuk L. Krishnan), and introducing the Search for the Long House – a project to locate and screen The Long House (directed by Phani Majumdar).

“Making RFF a true sensorial experience, food will feature in our programme, and we look forward to announcing partnerships with local food establishments and putting indigenous and contemporary Sarawakian cuisine on an international stage,” said Sidek.

The Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) began in 2017 and is an annual 10-day celebration of the spirit and energy of Sarawak. Hosted in the heart of Kuching, the festival honours Sarawak’s eclectic culture and vibrancy of the land and the people through music, art, craft, film, photography, and design.

#rff #rainforestfringe #kuching #2018

(all but one image courtesy of RFF)